Ice and Ice Houses

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Ken Scharabok, Dec 28, 2004.

  1. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    The current issue of Countryside has an article on cutting ice off of a pond for storage in an icehouse. Some years ago I visited with someone in CO. They were in the process of building an ice room under their front porch. Plans were to just freeze tap water in 5-gallon plastic buckets outside. When frozen solid they would be brought into a heated area and put upside down until the ice chunk came out of the bucket. The chunk would then be stacked in the ice room. They thought they could have ice until at least mid-summer this way.
     
  2. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    Ken, after recently reading a Gene Logsdon book that told of ice houses I was all enthused to do such a project. However a more thorough examination caused me to abandon the project---at least for now.

    In the original material Logsdon stated that it took only 45 blocks of ice 2'X2"X8" to provide the supply of ice for a family. Where I am at in Kansas doesn't see a lot of cold weather, but 45 blocks would be pretty doable.

    I got to studying the size of ice house he suggested and the requirements for the 45 blocks of ice and the cubic foot numbers just didn't match up. Apparently an editor let an error slip by in the printing of the book. In futher examination I read that around 500 to 600 cubic feet of ice is required for family uses. That sounds much more reasonable, AND A LOT MORE THAN 45 blocks.

    I live fairly close to Wichita and a report just last week showed that it has been nearly 9 years since the temperature hit 0º or below. I don't believe that these temperatures are conducive to readily producing clean ice. I want drink usable ice, not just pond ice for cooling.

    I might toy with the idea at a future date, but for now I won't proceed. For those that live in areas where there is more cold, have a look at the Logsdon article in "Gene Logsdon's Practical Skills" book.

    Ken, good topic as the energy prices push higher the cost for refrigeration.
     

  3. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There is a hunting lodge, fly-in, here in Northern Maine that cuts lake ice every year to last a year. I saw the story on "Bill Green's Maine". There could be more info there if you hunt around or email Bill. www.wlbz2.com
     
  4. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    Ya know Kenneth, I thought the same thing...except I was figuring to use 5 qt. ice gream buckets. Put the 5 gal. pails would have less surface area per pound of ice and therefore less melting would take place during the summer. The whole idea is to make the ice blocks as big as practical....bigger blocks thaw slower and you don't use as much sawdust for insulation.

    I read the article in Countryside. The photos looked like they were harvesting what we call "rotten ice." In other words, the ice looked crusty and grey. What you want is ice that is blue and fairly clear. If I harvested ice, I'd use my chainsaw. To use your saw, you should drain out all of the oil first.

    I wonder what a person could use for insulation between the blocks other than sawdust?
     
  5. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    CF, I had thought of using the 4'X8' sheets of styrofoam building insulation, or even the thin layers of foam that is put behind vinyl siding. Such material would be used to keep the ice from freezing together more than just as insulation.

    Remember that bigger blocks can simply be broken down with an ice pick as needed.

    Logsdon also mentioned using a chain saw.

    Edited to add----I was reading old microfilmed newspaper a few weeks ago telling of my hometown. In the paper it told that ice had been shipped in on the railroad to place in the commercial ice house for later sales. Even a century ago there didn't seem to be enough ice in Kansas for a proper harvest. Well at least in parts of Kansas.
     
  6. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    Windy (er, GBM) I would think that I'd have to cut the blocks pretty near a perfect size to effectively get styrofoam insulation to fill the spaces between blocks....unless I use the pour type of styrofoam.....hummmm? Or perhaps that thin foam that comes in rolls about 18" to 24" wide.
     
  7. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    In the middle east they have made ice for centuries using shallow bowls on the north side of buildings. A five gal bucket might not freeze thru in a nite, but a few inches in the bottom of an open metal container would work. If you notice, an open container with a large surface area open to the atmosphere will freeze faster and more solid than a closed or deeper container. I also would not put insulation between the blocks, just break off what was needed with a hatchet or pick.

    I also think the 'icy ball' would be worth looking into. You would need heat for it, but a fire or good solar funace would work for the heat.
     
  8. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    I've talked to some older guys in this area that cut ice off the lake and store in sheds with sawdust. It was a faily common practice and still is for some who have cabins on the lake. The ice keeps well into summer and no need for power to keep it. I'm amazed it lasts that long, but it does with the insulation with the sawdust. Both (ice and firewood to make the sawdust) are present on site with utilizing a chainsaw.
     
  9. ratherbefishin

    ratherbefishin Well-Known Member

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    I remember my father telling me of living on the farm in Ontario- and one of the winter task was cutting ice for the ice house-they packed the blocks in sawdust and he said it lasted well into summer.Ofcourse, there was no chain saw, the ice was all hand cut and packed onto a horse drawn cutter to take home.
    And, these days when a winter storm cuts off electricity and highways, everything comes to a halt- then it didn't make much diference in their daily routine, the farms were pretty self sufficient,they didn't have electricity.Coal oil lamps provided light and food was either in the cold cellar,or meat stayed frozen in a woodshed.The horses and cows had their hay and oats , so they simply waited out storms and got to town with horsae drawn sleighs[I went back to the family farm a few years ago, and found the harness and implements still in the old driving shed, includingthe cutter.7 generations of my family lived there, and the county graveyard is a corner of the farm that was dedicated, so many of my ancestors' headstones are there-funny to see how the same names kept showing up , too
     
  10. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    Sawdust vs. other insulation.

    Logsdon did say that an ice house needed to have good ventilation. Now that I think about it it is probably the moisture the saw dust wicks up that helps the ice to last so long. As air/ventilation evaporates the water from the sawdust it cools. Perhaps styrofoam wouldn't work.

    CF, my idea for making blocks was to use something simliar to Rubbermaid brand storage tubs filled to a certain depth to make uniform blocks. Between block would be cut pieces of styrofoam sheet goods, between layers a full sheet or as many as needed to cover the footprint of the ice.

    There are some old issue Mother Earth News ice house plans available on the Net for those further interested.
     
  11. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Thomas Jefferson had a working ice storage facilty at this homeplace.
     
  12. Michael W. Smith

    Michael W. Smith Well-Known Member

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    I saw that article in Countryside and am still wondering about something. Perhaps I'm just dense, but what did they use the ice for? Cooling food, or actually using the ice in drinks? And if they used it in drinks, how on earth did they get all the sawdust off the ice?
     
  13. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    I'm sure it's to cool food during the summer.

    Ya just don't want to use lake ice to cool drinks....the stuff smells like fish....and that's the ice from one of the cleanest lakes in Minnesota.
     
  14. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Remember you might not have to freeze the 5-gallon plastic bucket all at once. Freeze a third, fill the next third the second day and the final third the third day. Would just take more buckets and time.

    Ken Scharabok
     
  15. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    You're not dense and it's a good question from someone not used to living in the north.
    Say you have a remote lake cabin, that assumes you have no electicity. You could have propane barged in for a cooling propane fridge, which also are common here. Although it's expensive.
    If you stored ice and used it in a insulated cooling receptacle, then that's your fridge without electricity. If you want the cold drink, you would put it on the ice to cool the liquid and not put any of that sawdustish ice in your now cold drink.
    I suggest much beer is kept cold on these 'ice boxes'.
    make sense?
     
  16. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

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    This use to be a large business here on the Upper Mississippi. I've seen newspaper clippings with pictures. I do recall the ice chunks were huge. A lot of them were shipped to Chicago. I'll dig a little deeper and report back if i find anything.
     
  17. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Did you ever hear someone call their refrigerater an ice box? Many people still had "Ice boxes" before WW2. The ice houses in towns delivered square chunks of ice and the iceman placed the 50 lb chunk directly into the housewifes icebox in her kitchen. The ice went in a compartment at the top. The food was stored on shelves below the ice. The melted ice water drained down to a holding tank at the bottom. Many had a drain through the floor. The icebox was a beautiful piece of wooden craftmanship.
    My stepfather was born in 1884.
    There was an icehouse in the nearby town on Kewanna. The farmer who opperated it cut ice from a local lake whenever it got to be a foot or more thick. The ice was cut with an ice cutter pulled by a rough shod horse. It looked like a walking plow with a long straight notched blade tha struck down through the ice. The horse had to walk right along the edge of the ice to pull the cutter and cut off another slab of ice. The men cut the ice into blocks and loaded them onto big homemade sleds that were pulled to the icehouse by a team of horses. The horse pulling the cutter couldn't be just any good work horse. The horse would slip on the ice sometimes and fall into the lake. They kept a team on the bank hooked to a long rope tied around the ice horses neck. When the horse fell in the man with the team tightened the rope imeaditly to choke the horse in the water to prevent her from inhailing water. They pulled her and the ice cutter out on the bank and rubbed her down and put a dry blanket on her and went back to work. Very few horses would go back to the edge of the ice for the second time. My stepdad said The man used the same old mare during the years when he was growing up to pull the ice cutter. Saw dust was free at sawmills everywhere around the country. It would have been a waste to buy anything.
    Later the icehouses made the ice mechanicly. It was made in little blocks similar in size to hay bales. Each block weighed 100 lbs. There were little groves around the middle that could be hit a few licks with an ice pick causing the rectangle block to break in half leaving two square 50 lb cubes. That just fit an icebox.
    The iceman was the principle character in many old off color jokes.
     
  18. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone remember using a "cooler"? When I lived with my grandparents in Eureka, CA, during WWII, we used one. It was a cupboard built into an outside, north facing wall with screening on the outside and screen shelves. We used it for all kinds of stuff that didn't need the deep cold of the refrigerator (which only a few years ago had been an ice-box. I still call it that.) It worked like a charm and I think would be a good thing today. We kept all kinds of stuff in it. Eggs, milk, and meat went into the icebox.
     
  19. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    http://www.mainememory.net/schools_sams14.shtml

    I wonder how much electric one could save by rotating a frozen 3 quart pot of ice into the everyday modern fridge.....put it on the top shelf because cold air sinks....a way to make use of the cold weather....

    Often people around here either have a sunroom that is unheated or garage and things are cooled or frzn using $3 tubs at Walmart.

    I wonder how newspaper shredded up would work instead of sawdust...
     
  20. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have an old refrigerator in our unheated garage. It doesn't work, but is handy to store fruit and vegtables until it gets down in the single digits, and them I worried that things might freeze inside it. I stumbled onto a plugin at Rural King farm store that had a built in thermostat in it. It plugs into a three prong outlet and has two outlets on it.
    It automaticly turns on the power when the temp gets down to 35 and shuts off at 42 degrees.
    I ran an extension cord into the frige and put the new plug on the bottom of the frige with a 100 watt bulb plugged into it.
    It keeps the temp in the 40 degree neighborhood every time I check it.
    It would work in anything that could be heated easily. It got down to 9 below outside with no problem in the frige.
    It cost under $11